Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Holocaust Stories

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I’m going to be signing off shortly as WIR for the month. But before I do, I want to take this opportunity to tell you about my new book due out in February 2009. I figure that, while I use this forum to talk about other people’s books, why not talk about my own. So here goes. My new book is entitled Whispers from the Ghettos, published by Penguin Group (Canada). It’s actually the first of a three book collection of short stories from survivors of the Holocaust. The next one, Whispers from the Camps will be out in six months, followed six months later by the final book, Whispers in Hiding. I’ve written this collection of stories with a writing partner, the wonderful and award winning Y.A. author, Sharon McKay.

As I’ve said here before, there are so many remarkable stories of survival from this time in history. And now more than ever, I feel the need to capture as many of them as possible – particularly as the community of survivors is an aging one. It won’t be long before they are no longer with us and their firsthand accounts of this history will be gone. Sharon and I felt that a collection of short stories would be the ideal way to document a large number of these stories in one fell swoop. I am incredibly proud of this collection and indebted to the survivors and their families who opened their hearts and homes to us to share their life histories.

These stories are all true. I want to say that because I read an article today in the New York Times that disturbed and saddened me. It revealed that Berkley Books in the U.S. had cancelled the memoir of Holocaust survivor, Herman Rosenblat, entitled Angel at the Fence, when Mr. Rosenblat acknowledged that his story had been fabricated. For years, he had claimed that he and his wife had met at a sub-camp of the Buchenwald concentration camp, where she allegedly sneaked him apples and bread. They met again after the war on a blind date and were married. Oprah Winfrey interviewed the couple on her talk show. There is also a film of the memoir in the works.

This revelation has outraged many. It has triggered a series of questions as to why the publishing industry seems to have such a poor track record of fact checking; other examples of recent literary hoaxes include Margaret Selzer’s Love and Consequences, and James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces. More importantly, it provides fodder for those who would question the existence of the Holocaust. I am always worried about anything that might raise doubts about the millions who were killed at that time. There are so many real stories about this time in history out there. The truth is horrible and heroic enough. We don’t need to fabricate it. We just need to tell it.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Kathy Kacer

Kathy Kacer is an award-winning children's author whose focus is historical fiction and true stories about the Holocaust. Her many books include The Secret of Gabi's Dresser, Clara's War, The Underground Reporters, Hiding Edith and The Diary of Laura's Twin.

Go to Kathy Kacer’s Author Page